Getting Personal With Your Client

June 14, 2015
Getting Personal With Your Client

How personally do you know you clients? There’s clear advantages to getting to know your clients on a personal level, although there’s a fine line between achieving a close working relationship and becoming too personal for comfort.

This translators’ Hub post will discuss how getting personal with clients can be an advantage. We’ll talk about what it means to be personal, why it’s important to do so and some indications that you’re getting too personal for comfort!

What does being personal with a client mean?

People thrive when they’re in a good relationship, professional or otherwise. When it comes to your professional relationships, taking the time to show that your relationship is more than a means to an end is good for your career’s success.

If one of your clients has mentioned an important date is coming up, such as a work-related development, a birthday or a holiday, then taking an interest in this and asking how things went shows that you’re interested in their welfare.

As you get to know a client, you’ll get a feel for the sort of work they like and the type of things they don’t. By picking up on this you can tailor your work to your client’s preferences and inform them that you’ve made a certain decision in advance based on their preferences.

The more you work with a client the more you’ll be familiar with their line of work and thus able to make tactful suggestions as to how you could improve their workflow. 

Why is it important to be personal with your clients?

Taking the time to be personal will build a level of trust between you and your client. Achieving this takes time to develop, but a client is more likely to commission additional work to someone they trust than to look for someone new – even if other freelancers undercut your price point.

Being personal also allows you to be someone your client can rely on when needed. If a client is facing a difficult situation, then entrusting work to a regular, dependable freelancer will be something they want. Further, if you’ve taken the time to discover and remember the busy periods in your client’s working life then you’ll be able to help cover for them when needed.

Ultimately, by being personal with your client and tailoring your services to their individual preferences, circumstances and needs you’ll come across as an indispensible individual and asset to their business.

How much is too much?

As mentioned above, the line between being helpfully personal with your clients and overly intrusive is a fine one. Make sure you don’t become too personal, and ensure that the roles of client and friend don’t become blurred.

Sharing your own personal matters with a client, such as relationship problems or your financial affairs is inappropriate for any working relationship, regardless of how well you think you know each other. And whilst it might be tempting to vent your frustrations with some of your other clients, make sure that you don’t! If you do, your client will think that’s how you talk about them to other people behind their back. Save moaning about difficult clients for your fellow freelancers.

Being too informal can be problematic too: you might like to work in bed each morning, but you shouldn’t tell your clients about this! Likewise, letting your professional standards slip, or taking liberties with your work and communication simply because you see your client more as a friend than a work partner is something to avoid too.

By reading your client’s signals you should get an idea of the level of personal communication they’d like. Some clients will expect a more informal and friendly approach, whilst others will want you to remain distant and detached from anything about them other than their work. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to let the client set the level of personal interaction that they’d like and respond accordingly.

Final thoughts

How personal are you with your clients? Do they appreciate your approach? Or do you have any examples of where things went wrong? You’re more than welcome to discuss this in the comments section below.